Opener Alastair Cook was 51 not out and captain Michael Vaughan, embroiled in controversy over a newspaper interview, showed no signs of distraction as he reached 40 at the interval after earlier winning the toss.
Andrew Strauss was the only wicket to fall, when he was trapped lbw by Jerome Taylor in the third over of the morning by a delivery that pitched on leg stump and held its line.
Strauss has now managed just one half-century in his last 14 Test innings.
West Indies are seeking to level the four-match series at Old Trafford after suffering their heaviest Test defeat in the last game at Headingley, when they lost by an innings and 283 runs. The first Test at Lord's was drawn.
Cook looked impressive against a raw West Indies attack, which included the recalled Fidel Edwards and debutant seamer Darren Sammy, and his cover driving was particularly strong.
The left-hander reached his half-century with one such stroke off Dwayne Bravo, and had faced 84 balls at lunch with eight boundaries.
Vaughan came to the wicket amidst a polite, though not raucous, reception from the Lancashire crowd after he stood accused of criticising team mate and local favourite Andrew Flintoff in The Guardian newspaper this week.
In his second Test match in 18 months, Vaughan appeared determined to follow his comeback century at Headingley with another three-figure score, showing himself to be a man who relishes adversity.
Vaughan's perfectly directed on-drive for four off Bravo 10 minutes before lunch was perhaps the best of his six boundaries in the morning session.
West Indies' bowlers were erratic to begin with, as England registered their first 50 runs off just 52 deliveries, but Corey Collymore helped to redress the spiralling run rate through his typically accurate seven-over spell that brought just 12 runs.
Their fastest bowler Edwards allowed 30 runs from his first five-over spell but did show some evidence that his pace could trouble England. One lifting ball forced Vaughan to edge over the slips for a boundary.
Brief Score (at lunch, D-1):
England 112 for 1 ( Cook 51, Vaughan 40; Taylor 1 for 35) Vs West Indies.